You can look at the Bob Heirman Memorial Coho Derby coming up Saturday in one of two ways — as either very long odds on a slow horse, or as an interesting piscatorial challenge. Mark Spada hopes you will choose the latter.
Derby waters include only the Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers, and even the most optimistic fisherman will have to agree that the trio has not offered great fishing recently. Coho are notorious for developing lockjaw the instant they turn into the Snohomish from saltwater, and when you add the unusually low, warm condition of most Western Washington rivers, the silvers become a difficult target indeed.
Still, someone is going to win the $2,000 first-place prize, and the $1,000 second-place prize, and the $500 third-place prize, whether the fishing’s hot or not. As the Washington Lottery says, it could be you, and it doesn’t even require a boat to participate.
“There are a lot of fish in the river,” Spada, the derby coordinator, said. “All you have to do is get one to open its mouth at the right time.”
Spada said there was a good bump in the action after last weekend’s rain, and some nice-size fish. He said it probably will take a coho in the mid-teens to go home with the cash and the winner likely will come from the lower end of the derby water — probably the Snohomish below Douglas Bar.
The choice of baits and/or lures runs the spectrum of river salmon fishing, Spada, a Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club member and an expert on coho in the Snohomish, said. He adds that any of the following can and will catch coho, and he recommends being prepared to try more than one:
n Dick Nite spoons in 50-50 or red head, cast toward slots along the shore from a drifting boat.
n Plugs, such as Brad’s Wigglers in pink or chartreuse, trolled upstream.
n Spinners, such as Blue Fox Nos. 4 or 5, cast and retrieved.
n Twitchin’ jigs, half-ounce, in darker colors such as purple, pink/black, or pink/blue. Anchor above showing fish and feed the jigs down to them.
n Bait, eggs and/or shrimp, drifted under a float, particularly on the Skykomish.
The derby is sponsored by the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club, and proceeds go toward youth programs and activities that benefit all sport fishermen in the area. Rules are online at everettcohoderby.com/bob-heirman-memorial-coho-derby/rules.
Tickets are $25 and sales close Friday at the normal close of business for the retail outlets, which are: Ted’s Sport Center, Three Rivers Marine, Greg’s Custom Rods, Triangle Bait & Tackle, and John’s Sporting Goods.
Clams are on
State Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish managers received the green light Tuesday from the state Health Department to allow the 2017-18 coastal razor clam season to get underway Friday and Saturday. The latest round of tests for marine toxins showed clams were safe to eat from beaches involved in the opening.
Tides and open beaches for the two-day dig are as follows: Friday, 7:49 p.m., minus 0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; Saturday, 8:33 p.m., minus 0.7 feet, the same four beaches.
The next tentatively scheduled dig is Nov. 2-5, pending results of future toxin tests, but will not be all four beaches every day, according to state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres in Montesano.
This season probably will not produce the numbers of recreationally dug razor clams last year’s did. Ayres said clam populations are down significantly, but are still plentiful enough to offer a good harvest. The major difference is that there will not be as many digging days.
Ayres said diggers will find higher numbers of clams on the beaches north of Grays Harbor — Copalis and Mocrocks — but many will be small. The south beaches, Twin Harbors and Long Beach, will show fewer but larger clams.
The smaller clams on the popular north beaches create a recipe for wastage, Ayres said, with some diggers attempting to keep only the larger individuals. The small clams will not survive being “thrown back,” Ayres said, and state enforcement personnel will be monitoring compliance with the rule allowing the “first 15 clams regardless of size or condition.”
Lake Washington coho
There should be a week or two left of some pretty good coho fishing in Lake Washington, north of the Highway 520 bridge, according to Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood. Participation isn’t huge, but there have been some four-fish limits taken, Chamberlain said. The preseason forecast was for 22,000 adult coho to move through the lake, headed for the Sammamish River, Lake Sammamish and the Issaquah Creek hatchery.
Launch at Kenmore or Magnuson Park and troll, starting early from the surface down to about 30 feet, and later to 70 or 80 feet. Pull plugs such as Brad’s Wigglers or Mag Lips in fluorescent red, fire tiger, or purple/pink. An alternate rig would be a size “0” dodger and pink squid.
The fish aren’t large, Chamberlain said, usually going 4 to 6 pounds.
Many lowland lakes close to fishing on Oct. 31, but the month of October is often one of the most productive of the year. The fish are larger now, and cooler water temps make them more active.
According to state biologists, lakes worth a shot this month include Lake Sixteen, Lake Ki, Silver Lake, Lake Padden, Lake Margaret and Langlois Lake.
Lake Cavanaugh, north of Arlington and east of Mount Vernon, is open year-around, but fall is definitely the top time to give it a go. The kokanee are starting to turn, but cutthroat and rainbows in the 14- or 15-inch range are on the bite, big time. Locals stick to tried and true “Pop Geer,” a string of blades, followed by 18 inches of leader and a worm, small spoon, or Wedding Ring spinner and worm.
The blade strings aren’t particularly aesthetic, but they’re sure effective.
Cavanaugh fishes best toward the center of the lake.